The Adam Project Review: Ryan Reynolds' sci-fi movie is charmingly emotional & keeps time travel on backburner
Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy deliver yet another action-packed family entertainer that is all heart, thanks to a terrific cast, including breakout star Walker Scobell's wittingly innocent performance. Read Pinkvilla's review below.
The Adam Project
The Adam Project Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Garner, Walker Scobell, Zoe Saldaña
The Adam Project Director: Shawn Levy
Streaming Platform: Netflix
The Adam Project Stars: 3.5/5
After their likeable "summer blockbuster" team up, Free Guy, was a surprising sleeper success, you know a commercial cinematic match was set it stone between Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy. The actor-director duo was able to play around each other's strengths with a balancing act between easy lingo and overbearing emotions. At an alarmingly fast pace, the combo is already back with another project, The Adam Project, but does it have the same action-driven heart as their first collaboration? Let's find out!
Taking tropes of time travel and filtering through, on their own accord, The Adam Project has a very Steven Spielberg-esque vibe shamelessly attached as various sci-fi classics are obvious inspirations (Ahem! Back to the Future! Ahem!) too. Fighter pilot Adam Reed (Ryan Reynolds) of 2050, who is grieving his wife Laura's (Zoe Saldaña) mysterious death, travels back in time to save the love of his life. However, while fighting time travel mogul Maya Sorian (Catherine Keener) and her human-droids army, he accidentally times travels to the wrong year. In 2022, Adam Reed (Walker Scobell) is freshly grieving his father Louis Reed's (Mark Ruffalo) death while being a righteous prick to his loving mother Ellie Reed (Jennifer Garner) and consciously getting himself in trouble with bullies, thanks to his no filters, sharp tongue. When the two Adams finally meet, it's as you'd expect, absolute humourous bickering chaos.
With more mysteries lurking behind Maya's evil intentions, the "Adam" duo obligingly travel back to 2018 when Louis was still alive in a bid to put an end to time travel (Louis excitedly quips how he's invented time travel!) just inches before it takes shape. In between the sci-fi chaos, Adam of the future, who has daddy issues of a mammoth level, has to navigate his repressed bitterness towards his supposedly absent father, while Adam of the present tries desperately to cling on to what little time he has with his loved one before a known tragedy strikes. From the very get-go, The Adam Project makes it obvious that time travel, in spite of a few "over the head" explanations without a cause and effect, is that it's very much about coming to terms with eccentricities in various family dynamics; whether it be between a father and son, a mother and son, a husband and wife and even between your youth and adolescence. Emotions are at a peculiar peak rate as it's not just the laughs, but plenty of tears promised, especially in the concluding act.
Ryan Reynolds, after his Deadpool makeover, has established himself as a brand that's just hard not to enjoy watching on-screen, irrespective of the fact that it feels like all the characters he portrays are "multiverse" (Yes, there's a pop culture reference in the movie too!) versions of himself. With his trademark "pessimistic" wit in tow, Ryan doesn't just land the laugh out loud moments with finesse but is quite heroic in the emotional punch sequences as well. This is specifically witnessed in his heartwarmingly subtle bar interaction with Jennifer as well as a much-needed closure moment with Mark. Speaking of the 13 Going on 30 lovebirds, while it would have been delightful if the rom-com couple would have had more sequences, the actors manage to build sparkling chemistry in their one sequence alone, travelling back to 18 years ago.
While Ruffalo plays the loveable droll of a dad to a T and has instant sparks with both Reynolds and Scobell, Garner delivers a genuinely earnest performance that instantly touches your heart. The pair is overqualified for their limited appearance but mark their undeniable screen presence nevertheless. What a stroke of genius casting to have Ruffalo and Garner play Reynolds' parents because it's something we didn't know we needed and now, that's all we can think about! Speaking of minimal screen time, it's a shame Zoe's Laura wasn't given much to play with, but just like Mark and Jennifer, the sci-fi staple queen makes do with what little character sketch (with no valid explanation for her disappearance!) is offered while sharing fun, easy-going chemistry with Ryan.
The true breakout star of The Adam Project is undoubtedly Walker Scobell, who leaves you bewildered because you can't really imagine anyone else playing a 12-year-old Ryan Reynolds with such appealing conviction. Stuck between a rock and hard place, Walker walks the tight rope around the extreme emotions of Adam, who is grappling with his dad's death while trying to displace it upon his mother, with univocal innocence. It's touching to see the interactions between the two Adams as they try to make the other understand that it's not all as bad as it seems.
While the star-studded cast is the highlight of The Adam Project, the convenient storytelling by the writing team (Jonathan Tropper, T.S. Nowlin, Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin), where constant creative liberties are taken to the cinematic rules of time travel, can be a tad bit disappointing for fans of the classic genre. The fact that time runs on "emotions" in The Adam Project is something that Shawn Levy unabashedly preaches throughout the movie, to cater to an audience that only wants their popcorn's worth and isn't much into the sci-fi jargon. This is specifically seen in the "seen that several times" action pieces, as Adam seamlessly wrecks his opponents and turns them into rainbow dust as easily as in a video game, say Free Guy!? Just like Free Guy though, The Adam Project's wide landscape, with the big screen thrills and frills, envisions a more theatrical release than watching it on our laptop or phone. I can attest to this, having watched the film from the confines of my laptop as well as in a theatre with a string of loyal fans.
With definitive tunes of Led Zeppelin and Boston adding another nostalgic time travel trope to the mix, The Adam Project hangs in the balance of being inspired and trying something out of the box. At the core of it, The Adam Project feels like a therapy session for the titular character with time travel put on an instant backburner. However, with plenty of laughs and some ugly crying in between, Ryan Reynolds and Shawn Levy (would love to see more of this!) understood the assignment and gift us with a family entertainer that does what it promises to do; entertain!